Open Access as a Platform for Sustainable Development: Prospects and Challenges in Africa

Open Access as a Platform for Sustainable Development: Prospects and Challenges in Africa

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-5018-2.ch001
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Open access publishing is a cross-cutting issue that has the potential to contribute to most Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are reliant on improved access to information and knowledge. Open access publishing makes scientific results available for everyone, and thus facilitates new discoveries and empowers researchers through rapid and efficient access to knowledge. Open access is a platform of knowledge management. There is a clear link between open access and access to information, and therefore between open access and sustainable development. International organizations such as WIPO and UNESCO have already recognized this connection and have changed their own internal policies and officially recognize open access as a driver for achievement of the SDGs and sustainable social, political, and economic development. In the above context, this chapter discusses how sustainable development can be realized through open access platforms. The chapter is based on in-depth literature review. The chapter commences with a brief review of the literature on the major concepts, which is followed by a description of the role of open access in attaining sustainable development. Thereafter, the status, prospects, and challenges of open access publishing in Africa are discussed. Finally, the chapter provides recommendations for attaining sustainable developments goals through open access publishing in Africa.
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Open Access has been defined differently by various scholars and practitioners. Suber (2012) describes open access literature as digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. According to Clare (2019), open access is making research publications freely available for everyone to benefit from reading and using research. Cornell University Library (2019) defines open access as free of charge and often carries less restrictive copyright and licensing barriers than traditionally published works, for both the users and the authors. Open access is also viewed as a sprig of scholarly communication.; Roger Williams University (2019) describes open access as a means of disseminating scholarly research that breaks from the traditional subscription model of academic publishing. Thus, open access publishing ensures free and ready availability of scholarly publications; it is free of unnecessary copyright and licensing restrictions; material is available full text online.Open access content can be accessed and used by anybody from anywhere without any discrimination; open access publications can be in any format from texts and data to software, audio, video, and multi-media. The word “open” was coined because the research productivities are openly accessible to the public. Open access is a paradigm shift from the traditional model of scholarly communication to free availability. Open access therefore aids authors in widely disseminating their knowledge to be reused. Initially, open access referred only to research outputs published as peer-reviewed, scholarly articles, but today, it applies to various types of research products including datasets, grey literature, white papers, case studies, peer-reviewed articles, conference proceedings, monographs, research data, theses and working papers. Open access is central to ensuring that society benefits from knowledge by informing further research in an area or simply the end user.

Open access is also a platform of knowledge management. Open access and knowledge management have different connotations. Knowledge management maximizes the application and reuse of knowledge, usually within an organization, while open access focuses on dissemination and external usage of knowledge. Tise and Raju (2013) viewed open access as a new dawn for knowledge management, while Clobridge (2014) described open access as an external knowledge “push” with knowledge management as an internal knowledge “pull”. In 2003, there was clear emphasis by the Berlin Declaration on open access to knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities (2003, online), “...disseminating knowledge is only half complete if the information is not made widely and readily available to society. New possibilities of knowledge dissemination not only through the classical form but also and increasingly through the open access paradigm via the Internet have to be supported”. Supporting open access, in the same year 2003, the International Federation of Library Association and Institutions (IFLA) declared that, the world-wide network of library and information services provides access to past, present and future scholarly literature and research documentation; ensures its preservation; assists users in discovery and use; and offers educational programs to enable users to develop lifelong literacies (IFLA, 2016). Hence, the open access stakeholders are researchers, publishers, peer reviewers, editors, information users and libraries. Open access is an important knowledge management platform and a global knowledge resource. It is also viewed as the mainstay of a knowledge-based economy and sustainable development. According to Open Access nl, (n.d.), open access contributes to the knowledge economy and provides an economic boost. Ogundeindea & Ejohwomub (2016) in a study carried out in Nigeria viewed knowledge economy as a panacea for sustainable development. The key component of a knowledge economy is a greater reliance on intellectual capabilities than on physical inputs or natural resources (Powell & Snellman, 2004). In knowledge-based economy, a country’s growth and economic development depends on the quality, quantity and accessibility of information and knowledge rather than on physical or natural resources. Access to information and knowledge are fundamental for the development of a knowledge-based economy hence open access is also a platform for a knowledge-based economy.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Africa: A continent located south of Europe and bordered to the west by the Atlantic Ocean and to the east by the Indian Ocean. It is the second-largest continent in the world, after Asia.

Open Access: Dissemination of scholarly publications free of charge in digital form to everyone, which is free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.

Knowledge-Based Economy: In knowledge-based economy, a country’s growth and economic development depends on the quality, quantity and accessibility of information and knowledge rather than physical or natural resources.

Sustainable Development: Sustainable development is meeting the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations to meet their own needs.

Knowledge Management: Knowledge management is a purposeful management process to capture, exploit, share and apply both tacit and explicit knowledge for the benefit of the employees, organizations, its customers.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges related to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. The 17 International Goals are set to be achieved by 2030.

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